Book Review: Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma

I am no lover of sequels. I just shut down really, when, in anticipation of a beloved author’s continued words on a character or plot or unfolding event, I run smack into a wall of some stranger’s thoughts.  I want JANE AUSTEN’s words, I want new works from her, something more to read, to savor, not a return to or a rehashing of any of the nearly perfect worlds of her six novels.  Those are complete to me, and I want them left alone, I want to protect her characters from someone else’s mutterings.  So I confess to not reading any of the many sequels and much prefer to just re-read Austen, who says most everything better than anyone. [After writing this, I was looking at Joan Klingel Ray’s Jane Austen for Dummies and find her words on pg 297, almost mine exactly…”  I have to admit that when I need more Jane Austen, I just reread Jane Austen….I am not a fan of sequels…and I would never attempt to convince [others] not to read the sequels…but I am content to let Austen’s characters’ lives end with her novels…” (p297)  So I am in good company I think!  ]… Continue reading

Rejecting Jane

Finally got around to reading the article by David Lassman entitled REJECTING JANE (published in Jane Austen’s Regency World; issue 28, July-August 2007). An experiment whereby chapters of actual Jane Austen novels were sent to publishers and agents! As an aspiring writer myself, what could be more daunting than to read of these rejections – for rejections are what came back.

For each query (18 in total), four publishers and two agents were sent sample chapters from one of three Austen novels: Northanger Abbey – very apropos to our June 22nd meeting; Persuasion; and Pride and Prejudice. The novels were all submitted by a Miss Alison Laydee, a resident of Bath, with their titles changed (ditto lead character names) to, respectively, Susan, The Watsons, and First Impressions. Gotta laugh when the “First Impressions” packets went out unchanged as to the first line of the opening paragraph… and still no one caught on – with one possible exception (though this person may have been more fixated upon the opening pages).

Responses to these queries (15 out of 18 received at the time of publication) were nail-bitingly quick, though with the usual result: thanks, but no thanks. I would quibble, however, as to why packets were mailed to publishers NOT accepting unsolicited manuscripts, or to the agent who dealt only with TV and film writers; these circumstances surely were known by the submitter – or should have been better researched.

No need to condense the story; read it yourself at Regency World. And ‘thanks, David’ for the best laugh I’ve had this week!